A Kart is a vehicle used in the Mario Kart series. They can come in various sizes and colors, generally regarding to certain character's size and color. The first appearance of the karts was in Super Mario Kart and consequently, they appeared in every Mario Kart game to Mario Kart 8 thus far. The appearance of the karts also changed considerably lately in each racing game, coming out in a variety of shapes and features. A key on every kart lies on its stats. Besides the appearance, each kart is identified by its stats, basically on their size, weight, and speed. Thus, this means a character's kart is not essentially the same as the karts of the others.
The Karts also have presented in other game series and media such as in the Super Smash Bros. series, comics, and toys.
Mario Kart series
Super Mario Kart
For the first mainstream of the Mario Kart series, Pipe Frame Karts appear in Super Mario Kart as simple Go-karts with frames of various colors, regarding to the character driving the vehicle. In game, the concept of "kart" is applied for the Extra Lives of a driver in Grand Prix mode. In case the player's character lost a race from fifth place or lower, or attempting to retry the race, the character loses one kart (three to start) as a life. Losing all the karts quits the Grand Prix. However, it is possible to regain one life more by placing the same position three times in the row.
Mario Kart 64
In Mario Kart 64, Pipe Frame Karts appear similar to Super Mario Kart, having little changes from the 16-bit game. Both characters and Karts are classified by three classes of weights: light, medium, and heavy. Lights are Karts that show a high speed but a fairly low endurance. Medium Karts show all-around traits, whereas Heavy Karts have high endurance but poor speed.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Pipe Frame Karts, shown in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, appear the same as in Mario Kart 64. Their traits are similar to the karts shown before, which the vehicle is classified in accordance to its basic stats: Light for the Kart that shows high speed and low weight, Medium for the kart that shows a balanced ratio in speed and weight, and Heavy for the kart with great weight and low speed. In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, the player can press to sound the horn.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the basic models of the karts, seen from Super Mario Kart to Mario Kart: Super Circuit, are taken out. For the Mario Kart for the Nintendo GameCube, the karts appear in new models and styles. Most of them reflect some character's special characteristics, such as Mario's kart, the Red Fire, which it is a red and blue-colored all-terrain vehicle, rendering Mario's letter M emblem on its body and wheels. The design of the karts also are changed, regarding the new concept "two racers in one vehicle" within the game. The karts have a seat on the front where a character drives the kart and a platform in the rear of the vehicle where the second character is able to use an item, taken from the Item Boxes. Just as in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the karts are split in three weight groups: Light, Medium, and Heavy. The use of these karts is determined by the characters' weights; therefore, while one of the two characters has a higher weight, characters use a kart within the Medium or Heavy weight class. Pairing both lightweight characters results in a vehicle used as a light kart. The Parade Kart breaks this rule, being usable for any character. The player can press the item button (/) (without the rear character holding an item) to sound the horn, and the rear player makes a small pose.
Every kart has also its own stats. The kart's stats are qualified by the amount of stars on its acceleration, speed, and weight. However, these stars can be misleading. In general, lightweight karts have a high acceleration, but a fair low speed and endurance. Medium-weight karts have balanced stats, whereas heavyweight karts show a high top speed and endurance, and low acceleration.
There are twenty-one karts in all for this installment.
Mario Kart Arcade GP sub-series
In Mario Kart Arcade GP, all the characters use a standardized model of the kart, appearing with rounded details and a solid building as opposed to many other previous Mario Kart games.
However, in Mario Kart Arcade GP 2, the characters have an option to choose a secondary kart that was made for them, rather similar to Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS.
Just as Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, all the karts are rated out by the amount of the stars for each aspect. Regarding to the character selected, he or she can be light, medium, or heavy, emphasizing one of these aspects for the vehicle available.
Mario Kart Arcade GP
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
Mario Kart DS
Unlike what happened in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the basic models of the karts reappear in Mario Kart DS, having the name of Standard Karts. These karts are redesigned, having white bumpers and a hood of different color palettes that matches the character's custom color. The decal of the character is shown over the hood, although the player can replace it for his or her own in the emblem maker option. Additionally, every character can select at least one of three vehicles (excluding Shy Guy, having only his Standard Kart SG), exclusive for being rather different in design and stats than the character's Standard Kart. While a Standard Kart has plain stats, the other vehicles can have a high speed, acceleration or items ratio, depending on what the vehicle is made for. Every Kart is qualified by six ratings:
Mario Kart Wii
The Karts in Mario Kart Wii are once again redesigned with various details added than they appeared formerly. Similar to Mario Kart DS, the typical go-karts receive the name of Standard Karts, and are classified according to the size of the vehicle, split in three groups: Standard Kart S for small-sized characters; Standard Kart M for medium size characters and Standard Kart L for large characters. Albeit weight classes are replaced for size classes, the general aspects of the karts are the same as appeared throughout the series.
In addition, each racer can vary the kart's custom stats with the bonus points he or she has for each feature and select other five karts in the determined character's size.
Unlike their two-wheeled counterparts Bikes, Karts cannot perform wheelies. However, they can release a more powerful mini-turbo by drifting than a bike, depending how long the respective button is pressed.
Mario Kart 7
Karts make another appearance in Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS, with the Standards having a similar design to their appearances from Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii. They are seen to have some new additions: they deploy gliders if a character is propelled in the air from a high place to help them glide, and when underwater, a propeller will appear at the back to help push the kart along. Players are able to customize their karts as well. Some Karts from previous installments also return in the game.
Mario Kart 8
The standard Kart appears in Mario Kart 8. They have a similar appearance to the Standards from Mario Kart 7, but this time they have a new addition for the anti-gravity; the wheels go horizontal. Like in Mario Kart 7, the players are able to choose the bodies, wheels, and gliders for their karts. The Pipe Frame and Gold Standard return from Mario Kart 7 with slightly different appearances. The player can also press the player icon on the to sound the horn, a feature absent since Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Three additional karts are available from a free DLC (the GLA, W 25 Silver Arrow and the 300 SL Roadster) and eight more will become available from paid DLC (one of which has been confirmed as the Blue Falcon).
"Die Jagd nach dem Nintendo 64: Krawall im All"
In the Club Nintendo comic "Die Jagd nach dem Nintendo 64: Krawall im All", Mario and Luigi are seen driving karts in their mission to find a spaceship shaped like the Nintendo 64. They compete against Wario and Bowser and make another reference to the Mario Kart games by dropping Banana Peels and making them crash. The karts seen in this comic resemble those seen in the then-new Mario Kart 64. Unlike their video game equivalents, though, they can also be turned into jet skis by pushing a button on their steering-wheels.
Mario Kirby Meisaku Video
A Kart makes an apperance resembling the one in Super Mario Kart in the Mario segment of the Mario Kirby Meisaku Video where Mario drives it during his pursuit of the mysterious thief W. Eventually, after being attacked by some monsters, he spins out near a vegetable garden.
Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Melee Trophy
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Karts make a brief appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Unlike in Melee, where they appear as trophies, they are obstacles for the Mario Circuit battle stage. All the karts are as seen in Mario Kart DS, driven by red Shy Guys competing a race, while characters carry out their battle there. The karts tend to pass in the road where contestants fight, dealing damage to anybody who makes contact with them. Characters can use their moves against karts to send them flying away. Unlike how they looked in Mario Kart DS, Karts come in various colors, and their bumpers and emblems are colored differently as well.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
Karts driven by Shy Guys will reappear in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS on the Rainbow Road stage. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, and Donkey Kong were also seen driving karts in Rosalina's trailer.